From Heart to Page: The Carr Family’s Journey

Jennie and Tyler Carr have spent the last decade weaving a beautiful tapestry of love, resilience, and unwavering family bonds in the charming town of Kingston, Ontario. Married for ten years, they are the proud parents of two daughters, Maddie and Marlee, who are now eight and nine. Their family’s story took an unexpected turn five years ago when Tyler experienced a life-altering injury, resulting in a complete T4 injury.

Tyler’s injury led to a period of uncertainty and change for the Carr family, with four challenging months spent in the hospital. During this time, Jennie sought resources to help their daughters understand and cope with their father’s new reality. However, she found nothing quite captured their unique journey’s essence. Driven by love and determination, Jennie embarked on a unique project for Maddie and Marlee – a children’s book titled The Best Daddy Belongs to Us: Maddie and Marlee’s Story. This book would help their daughters and become a symbol of their family’s strength and resilience.

The book was more than just a story; it was a celebration of the Carr family’s strength, love, and the unbreakable bond they shared. Jennie, who has also faced her own physical challenges with significant vision loss, wanted to provide a relatable and heartfelt resource for her daughters. She recalls how her daughters witnessed her struggle with vision loss and, three years later, saw their father’s battle in the hospital. Through these experiences, Maddie and Marley not only saw their parents adapt and overcome but also learned invaluable lessons in perseverance and fortitude, which are now woven into the fabric of their lives.

In this special Father’s Day blog, Tyler and Jennie share their journey in an inspiring Q&A, offering insights and experiences as they navigate this incredible path together.

Q: What inspired you to write a children’s book, and how did you bring your vision to life?

Jennie: I found an illustrator in Kingston, a family friend, who turned many of our actual photos into beautiful illustrations. I wanted the girls to see they could still do things with their dad, even if it looked slightly different. Despite his injury, Tyler stayed active in sports like sledge hockey, golfing, downhill skiing, and wheelchair rugby. The book was a way to show our daughters that their dad was still very capable and that they could continue making wonderful memories together.

Q: Did Maddie and Marlee have any input on the book?

Jennie: Absolutely! They were very involved. I worked closely with the illustrator, showing the girls each stage of the process. They wanted certain things incorporated, like their favourite stuffed animals. Maddie loved her bunny, and Marlee adored her flamingo, so you’ll see these little touches throughout the book. It was important to me that they felt connected to the project.

Q: Tyler, how did you feel about the children’s book and Jennie’s efforts?

Tyler: I was really blown away. When I got injured, Jennie was a rock star. She is incredible – she fundraised, did bake sales, and created the book. It was a fantastic idea that came to life beautifully. The book also helped raise funds for our home renovations to make it accessible for me when I returned from the hospital. We needed to widen doors and install a lift right away, which required upfront money.

Q: Can you share some of the changes that had to be made to make your home more accessible?

Tyler: Renovations were crucial. We had to make immediate changes to accommodate my wheelchair, like widening doorways and installing a lift. Over time, we’ve made additional adjustments, but those initial changes were essential for me to come home from the hospital.

Q:Jennie, do you hope to republish the book ?

Jennie: Definitely. Initially, it was a passion project to help our family. Over the years, there has been a lot of interest in it. The kids want their friends to have the book, and it’s something I want to focus on again. Life gets busy, but it’s on my list of priorities.

Q: How have Maddie and Marlee adapted to the changes?

Jennie: Kids are incredibly resilient. They adapted quickly to our new reality, whereas adults often find it more challenging. They embraced Tyler’s disability, helping him and even playing with his wheelchair. It’s heartwarming to see them so accepting and supportive.

Q: What message would you like to share with other families?

Jennie: Kids tend to adapt more easily – it’s the adults that a have a harder time. I think just seeing how disability changes someone, but also what they’re capable of now has opened their eyes to a whole new community. I think just knowing that even if your parent has disability, that they’re still there for you, that all we hope to share with everyone.

The relationship doesn’t change. It can only get stronger and they’re still capable of so many things, and it can even  open up more opportunities for that person.

Tyler: Just like what Jenny was saying about kids being  resilient. I’ll never forget the first time they saw me in the hospital after my accident. We didn’t want them coming to the ICU, so once I got to the floor, I was really anxious and nervous about them seeing me. When they came in, I was in a tilt wheelchair with a neck brace on and the first thing they both said was “Oh dad,  you shaved your beard!”. That was the first thing they noticed.

Jennie: They embraced it. They’re pushing him in the wheelchair and they were getting in the wheelchair.

Tyler: We have pictures of the little one, Marley she was only two at the time and Maddie was four, I was in my big tilt wheelchair and they were trying to push it down the hallway.

Q: Tyler, please share your experience as a Peer Mentor.

Tyler: I go over to Providence Care. I try to go once a week to see newly injured patients and just kind of lift their spirits and the answer questions.

Any questions that they’re not comfortable asking certain people, like nurses, your family members. I really enjoy it.

Q: Why did you decide to become a Peer Mentor?

Tyler: It kind of just happened. SCIO Service Navigator Andrea just started messaging me like, “hey, what are you doing next Wednesday? Do you do want to come down to provide support or just meet this person?” It just started out that way and now it’s a regular thing.

Q: How has the response been?

Tyler: It’s really good, I hear really positive things. Everybody says that you know, it does help to have somebody with lived experience talking to them and just hanging out, really making them feel more comfortable in their situation. I hear positive feedback through the nurses and staff.

Jennie: The nurses or the staff will notice that somebody isn’t leaving their room or they’re having a really hard time. They call Tyler. They respond to well to him. Their day will improve and then they notice over the next few days they’ll have good days after that. If someone’s really down, I will go and help.

Tyler: It’s very rewarding. It really is. It makes me feel really good to do this.

Jennie: It’s healing for them and healing for you.

Tyler: Yes, it sure is.

Q: Tyler, how are you feeling about adapting to a new life?

Tyler: It’s been a roller coaster for sure. And in the beginning, I was kind of like the patients see like, very, uncertain about my future? And am I going to be able to be a good dad and husband? You know what’s life going to be out in the public? What if I run into something that’s not accessible? There was a lot of worry in the beginning, but I feel like as times gone by. It’s, you know, I’ve adapted pretty well. I drive. I do lots of stuff with my kids. I play sports. I was very athletic before my injury, so sports was a really, really good thing for me. I’m in better shape now than I was before my injury.

Q: How has your community responded regarding providing accessible spaces and places? Have you found it accommodating?

Jennie: Downtown area in Kingston is very old, so they have they have wood and spray-painted ramps that they will bring out if you need one. But there’s not too many accessible buildings downtown, but any of the somewhat newly developed areas they’re all  pretty good. They all have accessible buttons.

Jennie: We know the restaurants where there won’t be any issues. Those are the ones we stick to.

Q: Is there any other message or piece of advice you would like to share with other families facing similar challenges?

Tyler: Even when you feel like times are really rough, just hang in there.

It will get better, if you set your mind to something, you will do it.

Jennie: Find people that you can relate to. Get involved in the community, I went to  the online community and I found groups online for wives of husbands in wheelchairs. So that was really helpful at the beginning We were able to connect and ask questions to people who are going through the same thing. I think that  it’s really important to find people that you can relate to.

Q: Would you be able to share your experience with SCIO?

Tyler:  I can’t say enough good things about SCIO. Bryce helped me out with a lot of equipment in the beginning. I got a bicycle, a hospital bed, and an air mattress. Just all this equipment. And donated as well.

Jennie: Andrea really pulled him out ofa dark space. When he was getting depressed,  she really encouraged him to just at first just to meet with her for coffee and chat. And then she got him into the peer mentoring. I don’t know where you would be without her.

Tyler: I don’t know. I think it would be hard.

Jennie: He now he has friends that he can relate to and help. And then he feels like he’s doing something positive for the community and feels good about himself. So it’s been a blessing to have them.

Jennie & Tyler:  “It’s important to know that disabilities can be challenging,. But we must always highlight the triumphs, and that’s what the book did for our family.”



The Carr family sold 300 copies of the self-published book titled, “The Best Daddy Belongs to Us: Maddie and Marlee’s Story.  With a possible reprint soon.

The journey of the Carr family is a testament to the power of love, determination, and community support. Their story is a reminder that even in the face of life-altering challenges, the strength of family bonds and the support of organizations like SCIO can create a path to healing and hope. Tyler and Jennie’s dedication to their daughters and their unwavering spirit inspire us all to embrace life’s ups and downs with courage and optimism and highlighting the importance of community, support, and never losing sight of what truly matters.

Thank you to Tyler and Jennie for sharing their story.

To learn more about Peer Mentoring with SCIO




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